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BBC signs download deal for Amazon's Unbox service

The BBC is joining forces with online retailer Amazon to provide up to 400 hours of content to its long-awaited Unbox digital movie and television download service, including 'Doctor Who' and 'Walking with Dinosaurs'. The Amazon Unbox service will offer thousands of BBC programmes, in a deal with BBC Worldwide, including comedy, drama, science fiction, documentaries and news, films from Hollywood studios including 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros, and US TV shows from networks such as CBS and Fox, which can be downloaded and watched on personal computers or MP3 players. As part of the BBC deal, customers will be directed to BBC content through various routes including using the Amazon Unbox search engine and BBC links on the homepage. Featured will be comedy classics such as 'Little Britain', 'Keeping up Appearances' and 'League of Gentlemen', documentary series including 'Blue Planet'. Beth Clearfield, vice president of programme management and digital media BBC worldwide Americas, said: "We are confident that Amazon customers will enjoy discovering new BBC programmes as well as finding their favourites via this new technology." Simon Danker, director of digital media BBC Worldwide, said: "The growth of BBC Worldwide's Digital Media business is a key part of the company's overall strategy. Following this deal, we'll be working with partners globally to maximise our presence in this arena." By launching the service, Amazon ends months of speculation that it was to offer downloadable music or entertainment to rival the Apple iTunes Music Store and a number of other video retailers including Google, AOL, Movieline and CinemaNow. Amazon has beaten Apple to the punch in the movie download stakes, because although Apple has been selling TV programmes and music videos, it is expected to announce this week that it will also sell films. The downloaded movies and entertainment must be played on a Windows PC or on one of a handful of Windows Media-compatible portable players. Amazon said TV content will be available the day after the episode airs, with movies to become available when they are released on DVD. In July, the retailer announced it had turned its hand to film-making after striking a deal for the rights to bestselling novel 'The Stolen Child', a fantasy story by author Kevin Donohue. Amazon was set to team up with a Hollywood studio and producer to market the film and its DVD on its website. This year Amazon has increased its interest in web TV programming, launching a weekly interview programme with artists and authors hosted by Bill Maher, the political and cultural commentator. In 2004, the company produced five short live-action films on its website, featuring actors Minnie Driver and Daryl Hannah, which were used to flag up its credit card and the range of goods available on its US site. No responsibility can be taken for the content of external Internet sites.

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